In the Hands of Alchemy
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Story Behind the Sculptures

If you are interested in the personal story of how some of these art pieces came into being and the events surrounding their creation, several art pieces are more fully described in Jerry’s book, The Inspired Heart: An Artists Journey of Transformation and you can see the art piece’s interactive components in action in the Parabola video, In The Hands of Alchemy: The Life and Art of Jerry Wennstrom.

The box series have all been created in the last 10 years. They are all between 6 and 8 feet high and about 15-18 inches wide and deep. The boxes and carvings are made of weathered cedar found in the forests and on the beaches of Whidbey Island. The metal components used are mostly made from discarded brass and copper objects found at the recycle centers. Many of the metal objects are fabricated while others are objects that have been altered. The massive hair on most of the art pieces is made from rope, which has been unraveled and colored. The boxes have many mechanical, interactive devices.

How the latest artwork came into being
(in Jerry's words)
In retrospect, I find it interesting that these sarcophagus-like boxes should have emerged from my particular path as an artist and as a human being. What I feel to be the high-art of the creative human experience is facing, with courage, all of the unplanned moments that the psyche perceives as frightening and the ego may actually interpret as sure death. What I have learned from walking, many times, into the metaphorical death experience is that the greatest gifts are hidden behind our fears. Rather than finding death in those situations I have always found liberation and life.

I find it mysterious and deeply meaningful that I should have inadvertently arrived at an art form that interprets and translates that experience in 3 dimensional form. My boxes may be seen as being a little spooky and may look everything like death but, in fact, they are whimsical, playful and full of life. This was by no means a plan. This form of creation emerged simply by intuiting and pursuing the allurements that felt most natural to my path-- allurements that opened to me new and deeper avenues of understanding.

The mechanical component, which I have brought into my art, seems not to be an arbitrary aspect of the work either. My love for this kind of mechanical creation may very well be traced to something in the bloodline. I come from a long line of inventors on the paternal side of my family. I cannot credit my mechanical interest to any deliberate or direct influence, however, since those inventors and machinists in my family’s history were of generations existing before my time.

Those mechanical aspects crept into my work naturally, while the deeper understanding was revealed to me in its own good time. I must humbly admit to none of this being a completely conscious, controlled creation on my part. With attention, allowing the Mystery to be a mystery seems to be the key to a more meaningful and all-inclusive final expression.

Look at the first sculpture, the Goddess Cabinet.